With the approach of the holidays, many of us start to feel the excitement as well as the stress. We tend to get caught up in the tasks of planning, shopping, preparing, cooking, and hosting that we sometimes lose sight of the big picture. For some of us, this season is more difficult as we may feel lonely, are far away from loved ones, or struggle with the cold weather. Whether it's anxiety, loneliness or discouragement, how do we combat these factors and boost our mood? Here are some pointers from our experts that will help alleviate the stress and brighten your day.
- Sleep. We all know that sleep is important, but some of us need more than others and may not be prioritizing it enough. Make sure you know your body and experiment to see just how much your body needs in order to thrive the next day. 7-8 hours is recommended, but there can be variability.
- Move. Okay, okay, so we are of course going to tell you to exercise, but it can be fun! Try something new or out of the ordinary. If you typically hop on that elliptical, try a group fitness class or something more strength-focused...you just might surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it! Maybe it's just taking a nice brisk walk with the family on Thanksgiving day and talking about what you're thankful for.
- Thank. Reflect on the people and things in your life you are thankful for and voice or write down those things. When we audibly express our gratitude, our mood is more likely to lift and others will be positively affected as well.
- Nourish. The holidays present many opportunities to indulge in our favorite treats, but it can be hard on the body's metabolic balance. As much as possible, be mindful of your calorie intake and think about choosing to splurge on one favorite dish of the evening instead of all 5 dishes. For example, if your favorite part of Thanksgiving meal is the pumpkin pie, try eating a little less of the actual dinner portion so that you can fully enjoy that piece of pie.
- Anticipate. If the holidays are different this year or you are feeling extra lonely, plan a future trip or event to look forward to. Sometimes the best part of planning something is the excitement leading up to it.
- Laugh. Don't forget to soak in even the small moments and laugh. Allow yourself to laugh at your uncle's cheesy jokes, your pet's funny antics, your mom's fifth retelling of your embarrassing childhood moments, and even laughing at yourself. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
- Connect. Ensure that you are connecting with others and fostering meaningful, rich relationships. Whether or not you are able to visit with family and friends in person this season, reach out to those you love and continue building positive relationships. If there are relationships that need mending, consider investing the time and intention to forgive or apologize to that person, so that you can move on and move forward.
- Act. Lastly, as we move from the holidays to the mid-winter months, let's remember to be proactive rather than reactive. Instead of getting caught up in the cold weather complaining talk or whatever it is, let's try to combat those negative thoughts and feelings and decide to be resolute by planning fun activities in advance or calling a friend who always makes you laugh. Sometimes we find comfort in sulking, but it usually only leads us into thinking about more things we don't like. Let's break the cycle and proactively change the subject and choose to do one of the tips above.
Let's ring in this new season with joy and anticipation!
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